On the 16th of October, Transport for Ireland launched the fourth phase of its BusConnects plan. This includes two more 24-hour bus routes the G1 and the G2.
This brings the total number of bus routes operating 24 hours, 7 days a week to 10. This is in addition to the 13 nightline services operating on Friday and Saturday nights only.
On the surface, this seems great and in many ways it is. If you live in most parts of the city you can now get a bus from the city centre to at the very least somewhere near where you live. Provided that you choose to only go out on Friday or Saturday nights…
Or live in Swords, west Dublin but not in Tallaght, Go to UCD and live in Ongar, or wish to travel horizontally across the northside from the “famed nightlife” of the office-laden docklands to Blanchardstown shopping centre which closes at 9 PM.
The above is quite clearly hyperbolic in nature. But none the less the fundamental point stands that Dublin’s public transport network does not offer a truly 24-hour transport system for the vast majority of people.
If you live in very specific areas along very specific routes you may be very well served and that is great. I cannot argue that there are not more 24-hour routes and that more people have not been provided with a 24-hour way home.
What I cannot fathom however is the complete lack of joint thinking in this web of 24 our routes. Or more specifically the lack of priority given to major population centres and infrastructure.
Tallaght is one of the largest towns in Ireland and according to provisional census data has a population of circa 80,000 (2016) people which is about the same as Clondalkin and Lucan combined. Tallaght however has 0 Night time transport links with the best option being the new G1 bus to the red cow Luas stop in Clondalkin and taking a taxi the rest of the way.
This brings me finally to Taxis.
The solution that those more fortunate might suggest is just to get a taxi. Without even getting into the shortage of taxis available in Dublin. Particularly on busy nights. I think it is safe to say that the cost is the most prohibitive thing for most people.
In September the NTA decided to increase fares by 12% after having not done so for a number of years. On top of that, the popular app Free Now decided earlier in the year to add a €1 “Technology Fee” to fares paid for through its app.
Now I completely understand that Taxi drivers need to be fairly paid and that their costs have drastically increased. But I really question whether the solution here is to put that cost back on the consumer especially when many people have little other options and face huge increases in the cost of living in many other areas.
It also creates a disparity between those who have 24-hour routes available to them. For whom a journey home costs as little as €2 or even €1 if they are a student and or young person. And those whose only option is to spend €20 to €30 on a taxi at night.
To sum up, lots done but much much more to do. What has been rolled out already in terms of 24-hour transport is great. If Dublin truly wants to be a 24-hour city with a thriving nighttime economy, the government needs to drastically speed up the rollout of the BusConnects plan and provide everyone with affordable and sustainable public transport options day or night.
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